Score of the Week: Sunshine

This week’s score comes from a film that is not talked about enough, Danny Boyle’s space epic, Sunshine. This film, appropriately enough, is one that I discovered and watched after first hearing the score.

I had seen the cover art prior to watching the film, but I could not separate the film from two others that came out around the same time: Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain, and Matthew Vaughn’s Stardust. All of these directors are ones I think should be talked about more often.

I remember seeing and loving Boyle’s 28 Days Later (still a beloved film), and the score for the final climax always stuck with me. I loved the energy it had as, on screen, there was nothing but chaos. The way the film builds up as Jim, the “hero” of the film, becomes just as violent as the infected throughout the film. If I was writing about 28 Days Later, I would be linking to the conclusion of the film, where I feel “In the House – In a Heartbeat” is utilized best. John Murphy, the composer, likes to re-use songs in other films, such as Kick-Ass where this song is known as “Big Daddy Kills”.

Also on the Kick-Ass score is “Strobe (Adagio in D Minor)” and that song appears in dozens of other films and trailers and is one you may recognize from another place (likely The Lovely Bones or X-Men: Days of Future Past). And he uses it once again in Sunshine (twice), this time titled “Kaneda’s Death, Pt. 2 (Adagio In D Minor)”.

I would have preferred to link to the actual scene that the music is connected to, but alas, it is not on YouTube. In Sunshine, the sun is about to fail, so the Icarus is sent to reignite it. The Icarus never succeeded in its mission and was lost. Seven years later, they sent a second ship, the Icarus II.

As they reach the sun, they find a distress beacon from the original ship, which holds it’s own re-ignition bomb. If the crew retrieve it, they will have two chances to complete their mission. As they divert towards it, the shields require realignment, so two members must go outside to fix it. The crew’s physicist, Robert Capa, and the captain, Kaneda, go to fix it.

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Not to purposely spoil what happens (though the title of the track does so already) but it’s Kaneda’s sacrifice, when attached to this music, that just moves me. Giving me chills regardless of how many times I’ve seen it. Even while watching this moment once more for this article, it still happens. I know what the outcome is going to be, but it’s Kaneda standing there, accepting what is about to happen, and not even flinching as the light gets closer and closer which affects me.

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If Boyle’s Trainspotting is a blood relative to A Clockwork Orange, then Sunshine is the love child of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Alien. It is a film that doesn’t leave you feeling cold, but rather embraces mankind and realizes the simple beauty of a sun shining bright.


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